“Priority” is a simple word we all understand – deciding what’s important enough to get your attention sooner than something you judge to be less important. The truth is we all prioritize hundreds of things every day, mostly without even thinking about it. What about diabetes self-management? Does taking your medication, checking your blood glucose, eating healthy with carbohydrate management and getting regular physical activity score high on your list of priorities every day?
It’s hard to imagine anything that could be more important – more deserving of your attention – than your health. Aside from just feeling better and avoiding serious health threats as time passes, prioritizing diabetes self-management could add ten quality years to your lifespan. You’ll never get a better deal. So, why doesn’t everyone make diabetes self-management a top priority every day?
- Often, type 2 diabetes has no “attention-getting” symptoms. Not having noticeable symptoms can give the impression that diabetes doesn’t need your attention – that is a wrong impression.
- We may believe that taking our medication is the only important responsibility – it’s not. The primary reference for certified diabetes educators points out that any medication for type 2 diabetes “is only a supplement to lifestyle changes.” Diet and exercise are essential.
- Medical terminology can be unintentionally misleading. The word “complication” sounds more like car trouble than kidney failure or a stroke. However, the “complications” from unmanaged diabetes – type 1 or type 2 – can have disastrous consequences.
- Change is difficult. Breaking old lifestyle habits – diet and exercise – isn’t easy.
- I could think of others, and I’m sure you could too. The key to making diabetes self-management a high priority, however, goes back to how we tend to prioritize things “without even thinking about it.” Your plan to walk for 30 minutes every Monday, Wednesday and Friday will be challenged by some competing demand for your attention every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Making that 30 minute walk your top priority is only possible once you truly understand how those small decisions pay off big time further down the road, and make a conscious decision to make your walk important.